05 May Spotlight on Family Caregivers
May is National Elder Law month. Elder law attorneys help aging clients and their families navigate the legal and financial challenges they face. This role affords us a view of all of the people that work hard to take care of seniors and their families every day. In honor of Elder Law month, we will be recognizing these individuals in a series of blog posts.
The National Alliance for Caregiving estimates that in the United States nearly 65.7 million informal and family caregivers provide care for someone that is disabled, ill or aged. Informal and family care givers are unpaid spouses, partners, family members, neighbors and friends. They can be primary or secondary caregivers and may live with the person be cared for or somewhere else. These caregivers work at all hours of the day, often on top of full-time jobs, to ensure that their loved ones are safe and well-cared for. About a third of these caregivers are over 65 themselves, often taking care of an aging spouse of sibling.
Caring for an aging loved one can be overwhelming and stressful, especially for caregivers facing health issues of their own. Moreover, many caregivers often shoulder the burden silently.
In honor of these caregivers, we would like to share an excerpt from The Caregiver’s Bill of Rights by Jo Horne, author of Caregiving: Helping an Aging Loved One:
I have the right:
- To take care of myself. This is not an act of selfishness. It will give me the capability of taking better care of my loved one.
- To seek help from others even though my loved ones may object. I recognize the limits of my own endurance and strength.
- To maintain facets of my own life that do not include the person I care for, just as I would if he or she were healthy. I know that I do everything that I reasonably can for this person, and I have the right to do some things just for myself.
- To get angry, be depressed, and express other difficult feelings occasionally.
- To reject any attempts by my loved one (either conscious or unconscious) to manipulate me through guilt, and/or depression.
- To receive consideration, affection, forgiveness, and acceptance for what I do, from my loved ones, for as long as I offer these qualities in return.
- To take pride in what I am accomplishing and to applaud the courage it has sometimes taken to meet the needs of my loved one.
- To protect my individuality and my right to make a life for myself that will sustain me in the time when my loved one no longer need my full-time help.
- To expect and demand that as new strides are made in finding resources to aid physically and mentally impaired persons in our country, similar strides will be made towards aiding and supporting caregivers.